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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

How India Post plans to stay relevant as emails take over

India Post has grand plans for 2014. It launched two new parcel services recently - Express Parcel and Business Parcel - which it hopes will generate Rs 100 crore in annual revenue. It is working closely with e-commerce players. It has also begun a campaign urging people to send New Year greeting cards by post.

P Gopinath, Secretary, Department of Post, Ministry of Communications & Information Technology, lists out India Post's plans for 2014. "We will complete the networking of almost 25,000 departmental post offices across the country. The roll out of core banking solutions in the post office savings bank and an ATM network across the country is also on the cards. The other new initiatives include central server based applications for post offices, mail offices, administrative offices and pay and accounts offices and setting up of 28 new parcel hubs across the country to handle the e-commerce traffic."

There has been a lot of buzz around India Post's new positioning. Under Project Arrow, 2,515 post offices across the country have been modernised under a branding programme.

"In the current financial year, 110 Post offices are being modernised under Project Arrow. The project, which has a core operations monitoring system for savings banking and mail services, has played an important role in enhancing the image of the Post office in the minds of the people," adds Gopinath. Project Arrow received the Prime Minister's Award for Excellence in Public Administration for year 2008/09.

India Post, among its other new initiatives, plans to open 21 more Village Post Offices in 2013/14. By the end of 2015, it will add 80 more village post offices.

With snail mail diminishing and emails taking over, what does India Post plan to do to retain its relevance? "There is no doubt that personal communication in printed form has declined and will further decline in the years to come," says Gopinath. "This is a global phenomenon and India is no exception.

Mail, however, is being re-invented in its e-avatar. We are going to launch the e-Summons service for the judiciary wherein the acknowledgment for the delivery of court summons shall be transmitted and delivered through e-Post.

The court server will be automatically updated after a particular summon has been delivered on a particular date. This will help speed up court cases as proof of those who have been summoned will be available with the judiciary in real time and no excuse for non-receipt of summons will come in the way of delay in court hearing." He adds: "Similarly, through e-post the education department can send communications to all its teachers who are located in various parts of a district/state."

Gopinath is also banking on physical greeting cards. "Greetings sent through email or SMS/MMS are generally deleted as these choke the inbox," she says.

"The emotions conveyed through printed greeting cards are precious particularly if these are sent by near and dear ones and will be cherished by the receiver long after the sender may have forgotten them. The greeting card to a grandchild becomes more valuable if a My Stamp [personalised stamp] postage stamp containing the grand mother and grand father's photo is affixed. If a child is born, parents should affix his/her photo on a My Stamp and send a card announcing the new arrival. Not only will near and dear ones get the information about the new addition to the family, but they will also see the photo of the new born in My Stamp."

-As told by P. Gopinath, Secretary, Department of Post, to Business Today's Arunima Mishr

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